Writing Wednesdays

When I was young my Mother, my Grandfather and Grandmother put a lot of energy into encouraging me and my cousins to express ourselves creatively. We come from a family of writers, my Great-Grandfather, was a writer for The Herald and Weekly Times. My Grandmother has studied writing and editing and although she is not yet published, I love seeing the joy she gets when she see’s or hears something which motivates her, her whole face lights up before saying ‘That would make a great story!’. My Grandfather recently had a hip replacement and has limited mobility whilst his body recuperates. We assumed the limited mobility was driving the two of them a bit stir crazy being cooped up in the house (Don’t get me wrong they have the most beautiful apartment in North Fitzroy, but I’m sure anyone who is mostly stuck in one place for a certain amount of time would be forgiven for feeling this way!). So we went off to visit on Sunday arvo. It was lovely, we bought some mini cakes and had fesh salad rolls from the bakery, we shared stories of all our recent accomplishments and ideas, all in all I had a lovely afternoon. As the sun was starting to set at around 5:25pm we were sitting in the lounge area when Mum suddenly remembered an activity we did when I was younger to encourage me to write – The activity is pretty straightforward, you pick an object, it could be anything: a saucepan, a remote, a coaster etc… Then everyone is handed a few sheets of paper and a pen and you all just sit and write for a solid five minutes. It’s so much fun to hear everyone reading out their stories and comparing them to your own, it’s amazing how one little object can be viewed in so many different ways.

Here is what we chose to write about – a little blonde boy ornament with a cane.

 
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And here are the stories each of us came up with

My Grandmother

Herman Windshuttle put on his little cap & his brother Wilhelm’s hiking boots. He was off to Munich to join the youth movement. 

“Farewell Murri, Farewell Greta don’t lets worry about the weather” became his walking song & the brolly top flapped along in counterpoint to his strides. 

He came to the river, which at this point was small enough & friendly enough to allow him to jump.

A loud booming roar came over the low mountain range to the north. Herman took off his cap and waved proudly. They were off to spread the news of Deutschland Uber Alles, to the English cousins.

Herman actually had a cousin in Sussex somewhere, Murri wilfully spoke of her some nights. 

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My Mother (Big Pop)

Wee blonde Angus went out one day. He had no boots to keep his feet dry – just slippers and socks. He went to the town square and there at the market he purchased a bonnie green felt hat. It fitted well and his thick blonde curls just peaked out from the brim. He looked at all the stalls full of colourful fruits, vegetables and tableware. He wished his home had lovely decorative items. On the ground he found a broken tea cup that had been discarded. He picked it up and studied the hand painted flowers that decorated the fine china. What a prize! He placed it in a handkerchief and kept it in his rucksack

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My Grandfather

It was a terrible day! The rain had been puring constantly for many hours and the roads and tracks surrounding the cabin were slippery and muddy, Gillford was quite down-hearted. He planned a days hiketo the canyon and had estimated that it would take him at least 3 hours to reach his destination and he would have a lovely picnic before returning home! What a disaster! 

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And Myself…

The boy was cold. He had nothing left but the clothes on his back and the cane he used to walk after injuring hid right leg trying to escape the nazis. He estimated he had been walking for 3 days although it could well be longer as the blizzard made it hard to distinguish day from night. His mother was a teacher and a sympathiser of our local jewish community, she was taken away after being found out to be educating the the ‘undesirables’ and his father died when he was very young. At this point his snow boots and cane were all he had left, he did not know what the future held for him – but he had hope and hope is something no man could ever take from him. 

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Little Pop, signing out! 

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Day seven: gift ideas we love

Make someone else’s day. Make a difference !

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Australians spend an estimated $30 billion on Christmas gifts each year, and some $700 million worth of unwanted gifts are expected to be in landfill by February, FEBRUARY… that’s just 5 weeks post christmas. I would rather give a gift that lasts than something that ends up taking up space in landfill and/or polluting our oceans. I know some of my hand crafted gifts might not be things that you can be sure will be kept forever (or at least a significant period of time), but at least I’m trying to extend the life of something which would otherwise be on the fast track to the trash.

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I feel like we are often pressured by marketing companies to buy as many gifts as possible, and this promotes an unsustainable quantity over quality attitude towards gift giving. Since starting BNN we have become largely focussed on our immediate needs, an example is my christmas list this year which contained items such as a hose, a cordless drill and a dandelion remover tool (yes that’s a real thing!) I know this sounds like a lame excuse for christmas gifts but the thing is that I genuinely need those things and they will be something I can actually use… much better than some plastic reindeer that poops jellybeans then ends up gathering dust in my room the next day. The truth is that pre BNN my list would include lots of things I don’t necessarily need, but not this year. I sort of feel as though the pooping reindeer would be taking two steps back after putting in so much work trying to simplify our lives and get rid of all our junk (this is still a work in progress), we are trying to move forward.

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On the other hand I’m all for getting pampered and indulging in a little luxury every now and then. Everyone deserves a little indulgence from time to time, heck I get my nails done twice a month and my sister is always saying ‘isn’t that counted as buying something new?’ (they are acrylics) to which i reply ‘yes they are new’ and I know it is completely the opposite of what BNN is about but It is an exception I make for myself, I take my BNN challenge seriously but I do want to let out the inner girly girl in myself every once in a while and I think this is a small price to pay.

On Big Pops side of the family we have a large brood: 2 grandparents, 4 children, 3 spouses, 10 grandchildren, one great-granddaughter and various great aunts and second cousins make appearances from time to time. For a long time Christmas was pretty crazy for all of us with wrapping paper everywhere and I did feel at times like you barely had a chance to actually take your time and enjoy the gift before another one was thrown in your lap… the excitement of the gifts at times felt like it took time away from our ability to enjoy the moment and actually accept and thank those who gave it to us. This year seeing as most of the grandchildren are now young-adults we have all been put in a Kris Kringle together and so this year we each have to buy one gift instead of our parents feeling pressure to buy a gift for each of us. This saves everyone money and since we will be giving and given fewer gifts I hope we all have much more time to enjoy our gift, check it out think of all the things you could use it for.

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The last few years I’ve had a running joke with my sisters over christmas and birthdays as a few years ago I started requesting charity donations to Oxfam or World Vision instead of physical gifts. They found this funny at first and asked what I would like, to which I replied ‘well I have always wanted a goat..’.

My younger sister bought me a duck and inside the card it said ‘I’m sorry I couldn’t afford a goat so I bought you a duck‘ I still have the card sitting on my bed head and I’m not lying when I say that sometimes I open it up and wonder what my ducks doing these days… did its recipients eat it? did they use it for its eggs? does the duck have a name, or any duck buddies? I don’t know anything about this duck… and I like it.

In all honesty at twenty one years of age I have most of the things I need in life, and receiving a charity gift is something I welcome with open arms. I know other twenty one year olds are not as lucky as me, other communities are not as lucky as us, and it makes me feel nice to know those who are less fortunate will have something to look forward to…something that would otherwise be difficult for them to acquire.

This christmas I will be giving charity gifts, because I think that although christmas is a time for giving, it is not a time for giving just for the sake of it. My gifts this year will have a lot of thought put into them and I will definitely not be giving a pooping reindeer!